Operation Kingfish Netting Big


It is just eight weeks old, but already the newly launched anti-crime initiative dubbed ‘Operation Kingfish’ is netting big, and Officer in charge, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Glenmuir Hinds is confident the programme will succeed.
“We are resolved to ensure that we accomplish the task that we set, and that is to dismantle the criminal network and we are focusing on the 12 major highly organized criminal networks in Jamaica,” he tells JIS News in an interview.
He points out that the co-operation with international partners has made the task of disarming organised criminal gangs, which have been linked to the surge in gun violence and murder, more feasible.
“All the countries were in fact working the narcotics problem on their own, and once they decided that the problem has transnational scope, they took the decision that a similar response was required. The lessons that we learnt from that was that if we were to take the same approach to deal with major crimes, then we would anticipate that we would get similar results. Hence the co-ordinated approach to our major crime problem,” he explains.
The formula has been working. Just two weeks shy of its birth, ‘Operation Kingfish’ made its first haul when American law enforcement agents, assisted by Jamaican and British counterparts, intercepted three boats and seized some $4 billion worth of cocaine destined for Jamaica. Five persons were arrested and the boat confiscated.
Additionally, a sophisticated ganja growing operation in Westmoreland was destroyed and persons involved in several smaller operations arrested. Subsequently, some 28 go-fast boats, suspected of being used in drug trafficking, were seized in western Jamaica.”Things are being done, people are being held, and firearms are being recovered,” the Assistant Commissioner points out. He notes that although there has been much cynicism regarding other anti-crime initiatives, Operation Kingfish is distinguished because of its multi-faceted approach.
“Operation Kingfish is not a squad but rather it’s a multi-agency co-ordinating unit set up to analyze and co-ordinate intelligence to develop investigative leads and co-ordinate operational approaches. Operation Kingfish is largely driven by intelligence,” he explains.
Operation Kingfish is also equipped with a social intervention component. This, he says is geared at filling the “void” created in communities with the removal of the criminal network on which persons might have become dependent.
He says that while a lot of work is already being done in these communities, the absence of a central co-ordinating entity was noted and so an effort is being made to link the programmes. The long-term aim, he says is to develop skills banks from the communities and identify skills so as to help place persons in jobs.
The Assistant Commissioner notes that a number of agencies, community groups and international partners have pledged their support to the programmes.
No ground is being left uncovered and Operation Kingfish is reinforced by help from the legal fraternity in developing cases and preparing them for presentation to the Courts.
“It is a major and significant difference,” the Assistant Commissioner notes. He points out that the wisdom of this approach is to convert into evidence all the intelligence gathered so as to have well developed cases for the Courts.
“Other than just picking them up because you have some evidence, some information and then when they are released, they take on the profile larger than life, the idea is to ensure that the cases are developed in such a way that they will stand up in Court,” he adds.
Where legislative changes are concerned, he says the necessary steps are being taken through Bills, some of which are being drafted and others are before the Houses of Parliament.
In the meantime, he explains that a public information strategy is a large part of the publicity campaign and serves to alert citizens as to the negatives of the “kindness” bestowed on them by so-called ‘dons’.
The Assistant Commissioner is appealing to citizens to take advantage of the toll free help line established for persons with information on criminal activities.
“Persons can call in, feeling free that the information they are providing is secure and they won’t be compromised,” he points out.
As for the use of forensic science in investigations, he says much is being looked at in this area with help from international partners, as its value in crime investigation has been realized.
All the persons who are part of the Task Force in the operation have been carefully vetted and screened, and have been subjected to thorough background checks and lie detector tests.
National Security Minister, Dr. Peter Phillips who spoke at the launch on October 19, highlighted the success of previous initiatives. The Minister said the 2002 Anti-crime Initiative and the campaign against major figures in narcotics trafficking, had achieved considerable success in disrupting the illegal drug trade.
He pointed out that one measure of success was that at least eight individuals, who had been the target of long-term investigations for their roles as high-level drug traffickers in the international arena, have been arrested. “These eight arrests led to the seizure of substantial assets worth millions of dollars,” he said.
Operation Kingfish has as one of its objectives, the disruption of illegal trafficking throughout the central and western Caribbean with the help of its international partners.
The crime plan will also target active gang leaders and their cohorts in inner city communities islandwide in a bid to disrupt criminal gangs, which thrive on drug trafficking and gun violence.
“The main aim of the Task Force is to break up the organised and dangerous criminal gangs that are at the root of most of the gun violence,” Dr. Phillips had explained.

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